The Rules of Golf

I’ve stood on that exact spot where his ball was. It was 100% trampled ground from spectators all week.

I don’t care what other folks decide to do with rules for non-tournament play. There’s another new thread about rules that some folks use, and how they vary from group to group. But those choices are, to me, separate from discussing the actual rules and how they impact play, or suggesting how they should be changed. The rules are on one hand pretty simple, in that 90% of the time or more you don’t need to know more than 5 or 6 basic rules. But they can also get pretty complicated with the exceptions to those basic rules.
To me, the 2019 Rules are a significant improvement, the language is simpler, and many things were made more consistent. There were a few changes that I didn’t like, some of which I’ve become OK with, some of which I still dislike. But knowledge is power, if you play seriously enough to enter even local club tournaments, its worth it to learn more about the rules.


I agree with all of that. I also think it’s good to know the rules if only for the situations they will help you (which for me personally happens more often than they would hurt me).


I’m not arguing against knowing the rules. Absolutely educate yourself on the rules. You have to know them in competition or playing a casual Saturday with a stickler.
My argument is that many are outdated and do nothing for the game.

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We can disagree and still be friends. I’ll even buy the first beer if you come to Northern Virginia.

Prevent tour players from calling a rules official over to talk them through how to take a drop! That should be an extra stroke penalty


How about requiring an aspiring PGA Tour player pass a minimum rules proficiency test before he gets his card?


I feel like I had to do one way back when I was in a PGM program, but that might have just been our director requiring that.

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For sure!!! Not trying to pick a fight. A little healthy debate is good!

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I’m biased about this but I think the no anchoring rule was a bad idea for the game and a bit arbitrary. I don’t think anchoring makes putting magically easier and to me long putters make the game more accessible for the average player.

I’m hopping on this train with the divot in the fairway. I truly believe if it’s that hard to identify what a “divot” is then the rule should be changed as such:

If your ball comes to rest in the fairway in a spot on the fairway that isn’t even with the grass, you can lift and move you’re ball to an area within one foot no closer to the hole, no cleaning of the ball, unless conditions dictate. This takes the guess work out of what might be considered a divot.

I agree with the luck and it going both ways, however, I also agree that luck is exactly that, luck. However, landing in someone’s divot who just laid the sod over the ball and then walk away with disgust leaving a crater than can break your ankle, shouldn’t be penalized or considers bad luck. That is just poor etiquette and no golfer should be penalized for that.


Yes, let the guys wear shorts already! All the ladies can! As I only play casually, I’m starting to hit 2 balls on the fairway, when it’s covered with leaves…and play the one I can find, LOL


Here during winter our course has a preferred lie rule. Lift clean and place within 1 card length not closer to hole. Handy if you are behind a tree! Also some people in the comp were giving each other gimme putts. Big no no.

I agree with Bigdadenergy that the USGA screwed up big time when they didn’t change the Lost Ball penalty.
Without ball spotters the US Open would have had much higher scores and taken much longer to complete. With Bryson hitting 50% of fairways he could have lost every one of them. Calculating 14 drives per found that’s 56 penalty strokes - or 82.5 strokes per round. If he found half of them he still would have had 22 penalty strokes and scores an average of 75,5. And that does calculate that he finished 6 under.
For the average of the best players in the world, fairways hit was 37%. Assuming an average of even par, their scores would have been 78.5 with half the drives that missed the fairway being a lost ball. It would have been 87.5 if they couldn’t find any of their errant tee shots.
Those are more realistic results for those of us without ball spotters.
I wonder why those of us who are not as skilled as full time professionals should actually be penalized more than they are.
I say that Lost Balls should be treated as a lateral hazard, one stroke - that’s plenty penal to most scores. You can argue that Out of Bounds should be treated more severely since it usually means an even more errant shot. But lost balls usually just mean that you didn’t spend enough time searching and if you did the pace of play would be grueling.
If the USGA really wants to improve pace or play they would allow golfers to forget about their lost balls in the rough without obsessing about ruining their score just because the course doesn’t allow, and they can’t afford, a fore caddy.
That said, as long as the rule stands, it’s best the play it that way or you’ll end up with a too generous handicap.


Generally, I would like to see more red stakes on the courses I play. This helps with the lost ball situation as many get covered by red penalty area rule

I think this was some of the thinking behind expanding what constituted “lateral hazard”


Seriously. This.

Bringing in a rules official after ball goes into a water hazard?!?!

Give me a break!

First, we’re not penalized more severely than the pros, mostly because we almost NEVER play with healthy 6 to 8 inch deep rough.
I assume you’re aware that the penalty for a lost ball WAS reduced from stroke and distance to distance only. Don’t take a stroke, just replay the shot. For 1960. And the change was found to be unsatisfactory, and returned to the current penalty.
Your proposal, treat it as a lateral hazard (or red Penalty Area, to use up-to-date terminology) has its own problems. Where is your Reference Point? For a red PA, you estimate the point where the ball crossed the boundary. For a lost ball, what do you use, since you DO NOT KNOW where the ball is? Beyond that, if you don’t find the ball in the first minute or two, its probably in a pretty dang bad spot. Hitting it from that bad spot is likely to be extremely difficult, maybe taking two or three attempts to get it back to someplace where you can really advance it. I’d much rather just stop looking, take my stroke, and drop it in someplace much nicer. Someplace NOT in the weeds or heavy woods. That level of penalty simply isn’t enough. A penalty should always be strong enough to discourage a player from using it for convenience sake.
And the USGA AND R&A did allow for pace of play when they formulated Model Local Rule E5. If you lose a ball, you can drop one in a specified area, but with a TWO stroke penalty. The only issue is your score, not the pace of play.

You’re 100% correct, this does make things “easier” in some ways, so re-marking courses should also result in re-rating of the course. But there are downsides, particularly the fact that you cannot use the Unplayable Lie relief for a ball in a Penalty Area. Say you hit one that covers 100 yards of high fescue marked with red stakes, and you find it in the fescue 3 inches inside (not fairway-side) the boundary. You cannot take two clublengths for unplayable lie, you have to back to where the ball crossed the boundary the first time.


That makes sense.

I’m thinking of thick woods on the doglegs. When trying to cut the corner it’s sort of binary. I either carried it and can find my ball or I am complete SOL.

I’d like to see red stakes on the corner so that I can just drop. Just my preference.

Often I won’t know what’s happened till I turn the corner

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Fun note.

I play a course on the tx coast where all native areas are played as a red penalty area.

This is due to the fact that:

  • they have native plants they want to protect
  • they don’t want the golfers to meet mr. rattlesnake

I was just fine taking my drop and penalty stroke once I heard the explanation!!


There’s always the option for a Provisional Ball.
But say you do try to cut the corner, how far back would you have to walk if you determine that the ball is in the Penalty Area? Did it enter the Penalty Area 50 yards back, 100? And you can’t hit a Provisional Ball unless there’s a realistic possibility that the ball is lost outside of the Penalty Area. So in this case, changing the course markings could actually slow down play, by eliminating the option to play a Provisional.

I’ve played in Arizona and in Palm Springs, and have seen the same. The original RoG didn’t envision desert golf, but I think the deserts are one of the best reasons for allowing Penalty Areas to include areas without water.